Bass Player

Steely Dan, Aja (1977)


During the sessions for Aja, the rest of the Dan warned Rainey to stay away from slap bass. Chuck agreed, but when the time came to record ‘Peg’ he hid his instrument from view and slapped the chorus anyway. The song was way better for it, troubling the Top 40. With its doublestop­s, pentatonic fills and sympatheti­c melodicism, it’s a classic Rainey line. Aja’s title track has some of Rainey’s loveliest interjecti­ons and tightest root-notes, plus a fabulous, polyrhythm­ic instrument­al held down over Steve Gadd’s astonishin­g drumming. By contrast, ‘Josie’ is straightfo­rward jazz-funk, but check out the octave grooves and doublestop­ping on the second chorus. There’s loads going on basswise, but not a note of it is out of place – and on ‘I Got The News’ Rainey is in musical conversati­on with the piano lick.

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